Flaherty emphasized his personal relationship with the embattled mayor in an interview on Monday with CBC’s "Power & Politics with Evan Solomon."
Solomon asked Flaherty about the allegations Ford smoked crack cocaine and whether the scandal is destructive to economic development in Canada’s largest city.
“You and I both know that there are so many allegations around this guy, staff’s leaving, have you spoken with Mayor Ford since this stuff has broken to help him deal with this stuff?” Solomon asked.
"I’ve spoken with the mayor and I’ve spoken with members of his family. I’m very close to the family, and I won’t comment further on that," Flaherty told Solomon.
Solomon then asked if the mayor needs to take any “different steps.”
“They’re very good friends of mine,” Flaherty said, appearing uncomfortable. “The family are very good friends.”
Solomon pressed the finance minister a third time, asking if he has given Ford advice on how to deal with the scandal.
“My discussions with him have been personal, they haven’t been about infrastructure or anything like that,” he said.
Flaherty’s personal conversations with Ford were then fodder for a panel discussion on the show, where CBC News’ Greg Weston lauded the finance minister for sticking by the mayor when it is inconvenient.
“I think we should all have friends as good as Jim Flaherty’s friends with Rob Ford,” Weston said. “That says more about Jim Flaherty than it does about Rob Ford.”
Another Ford friend — Prime Minister Stephen Harper — has been less vocal. Harper, who is already facing intense scrutiny over the Senate expense scandal, recently refused to comment on accusations his fishing buddy was caught on camera smoking crack.
Now some are wondering if Ford’s alleged drug problems could somehow hurt Harper and other Tories politically. Sun columnist and former Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella has suggested they should.
Kinsella wrote on his website that Harper has “aided and abetted Rob Ford every step of the way.”
Kinsella posted a clip of Harper attending a Ford family barbecue in 2011, where he praised the family’s “conservative political dynasty” and lauded Ford for “cleaning up the NDP mess” in Toronto. Flaherty and Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak were also in attendance.
“Given his present difficulties, (Harper) doesn’t want you to remember that (his minions have scrubbed the video below every time it pops up on the Internet – but not on this web site!),” Kinsella wrote. “But the fact remains: he’s one of Rob Ford’s enablers.”
Former Ontario Liberal Finance Minister Dwight Duncan also seemed to revel in the situation last week.
“So do you think Harper and Hudak will be doing a summer BBQ with the Fords again this year?," he tweeted.
“I said there’s only one leader and one party that’s going to benefit the hard-working taxpayers of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area and that’s Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party,” Ford said at the time.
Last summer, Harper and Ford got together for a fishing trip at the prime minister’s official country retreat in Harrington Lake.
What do you think of how Flaherty handled those questions about Ford? Tell us in the comments below.
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